Details of Disappearance
Shanitia attended the Sunday service at Gethsemane Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia on July 17, 2022. She was an active church member and a clerk for the church. Later that day she was seen by her children in an argument with her husband, Adrian Salvatore Lewis, in their driveway. They left together in Lewis's 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. It was 9:34 a.m.
Six minutes later, Adrian was seen on surveillance video in the parking lot of a Little Caesars restaurant, wiping the inside of the passenger door of his car. Only Shanitia's legs were visible on the video; they were on the passenger seat, motionless.
According to Shanitia's sister, Deidra Eure, Shanitia and Adrian were having marital problems and had been for months. Adrian had repeatedly accused Shanitia of infidelity, something she denied, and multiple witnesses said he had threatened to kill her multiple times. He told a close friend he himself was being unfaithful and when the friend said he could hardly expect fidelity from his wife in that instance, Adrian reportedly replied, "I'm from the street, and I handle things the street way."
On July 5, Shanitia told her husband she wanted a divorce. Adrian said he didn't understand why. On July 14, Adrian threatened suicide, which prompted Shanitia to remove the family's guns from their home and take them, along with the couple's two children, to Deidra's home for safekeeping.
On July 17, Shanitia and Adrian went to Deidra's home to pick up at their children at 1:30 a.m. At 9:40 a.m., Adrian called Deidra and said Shanitia was having an affair. At around 12:00 p.m. he called again and said he and Shanitia had had a "verbal altercation" and she had jumped out of his truck near a Wawa gas station on Jefferson Avenue and Harpersville Road. Surveillance cameras in that area did not support his statements, however.
Following this call, Deidra repeatedly tried to contact Shanitia. She got several texts from Shanitia's phone but never actually spoke to her. Investigators believe the phone was under Adrian's control at the time. On the day of Shanitia's disappearance, she had told a friend her husband had "cloned" her phone, meaning he had copied the data and identity of one phone to another.
At 3:45 p.m. Shanitia's sister was on the way to Shanitia and Adrian's home and saw Adrian's truck parked next to a dumpster in a parking lot in the 6200 block of Jefferson Avenue. She stopped to investigate and saw Adrian placing several items in the dumpster. Police later recovered the items; they included a dirty shovel, Shanitia's brown purse, her sandals, some of Adrian and Shanitia's personal documents, and a blanket with a suspected handprint on it.
Adrian arranged to have his truck detailed, and bought a plane ticket to Montego Bay, Jamaica. He was due to depart from Washington Dulles International Airport the day after Shanitia's disappearance. Instead he was detained by police at the airport at 4:15 a.m. on July 18. Shanitia's passport and credit cards were found in his baggage.
When police subsequently searched Adrian's truck, they found a "significant amount" of blood in the passenger seat. Adrian said the blood was from his dog, which a neighbor had shot. However, both of Adrian's dogs were healthy and no one had shot them. DNA testing proved the blood was Shanitia's.
Police also found a bullet casing in the truck. Searches of Adrian's phone showed he had searched online for information about gunshot wounds to the head and what the sentence was for murder in Virginia. He called a friend and said "It's over. She admitted to cheating on me." He asked his friend to look after his sons for him, as he was planning to go to Mexico. His friend did not believe him.
Adrian was charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in Shanitia's disappearance. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. He is awaiting trial.
Investigators have never been able to locate Shanitia's phone. In the weeks prior to her disappearance, she made as many as 106 calls a day. After July 17, there was no activity on the phone.
Shanitia had been married for about 17 years by the time of her disappearance, and is the mother of two teenage sons. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.